Dewar’s “Champions Edition” scotch continues its celebration of the 19th hole of golf — the bar, in case you didn’t know — with another annual release of this 19 year old blended Scotch, produced in collaboration with the U.S. Open. This is our third year running with the blend, following the 2022 and the inaugural 2021 release.
First the big news: There are again some small changes in store for the drinker with this offering, which starts with a traditional bourbon barrel casking and culminates in a finish in casks which formerly held Napa Valley red wine. (There’s no detail on finishing time, which is par for the course. Sorry.) Bottling proof remains at 86.
With introductions resolved, let’s hit the links again with the third hole of this always worthwhile release.
Red wine barrel finishing can often have an unpredictable effect on a whisky, and while it is hardly ruining things here, I do have a clear preference for the original expression, which lacked any finishing. There’s a sharp, peppery quality to the nose, both black and red, backed up by a pop of fruit — strawberry, perhaps, with a slightly fermented quality. Plenty of cereal notes throughout, with a healthy overtone of barrel char, adding a little vanilla to the mix.
The palate has a distinctly doughy quality that is common with red wine finished whiskeys, though it’s fortunately sweeter than most. Notes of coconut and sesame, then spiced, baked apples and some orange peel all come into view in time — all layered atop that cookie dough-like body. The finish is a bit toasty, showing a hint of pickle brine salinity.
While this third expression doesn’t quite gel the way I’d have liked, and Dewar’s other expressions in the series are markedly better, it’s still not a bad sipper after a long day on the links.
Now watch this drive.